Department of Health & Family Welfare, Punjab is all set to initiate an ambitious campaign to tackle ‘Cervical Cancer’ among women in the state of Punjab. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer of women in India. It is second most prevalent cancer (after breast cancer) in Punjab.
Chairing the meeting of Technical Expert Group on HPV vaccination held here today, Health and Family Welfare Minister Brahm Mohindra said that under the leadership of Chief Minister Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh, state government is committed to provide all health care and treatment facilities to the patients suffering from the cancer and soon all school going girls across the state will be provided the life saving vaccine to prevent the most trending cervical cancer reported in the women.He said that Bathinda and Mansa districts had the higher rate of cervical cancer as compared to rest of the districts of Punjab. Therefore, this dedicated campaign is launched in the two districts under second phase of anti-cervical cancer campaign. He said that the HPV vaccination will be provided to school going girls studying in 6th class in all schools, both government as well private alongwith the second dose to the girls covered in first phase.Mr. Mohindra also instructed the department authorities to ensure technical training regarding HPV vaccination for the teams of Medical Officers deputed under this campaign. He said that in order to achieve the set target, district level teams would be constituted to track the girls who were shifted to other schools. He said that we also have to educate the parents of girls who will be vaccinated under this programme to ensure the security and safety of the girl children.
Health Minister said that the vaccine for the purpose is being procured by Punjab Government through UNICEF and the technical guidance to be provided by the WHO. He said that approximately, 20,000 girls are expected to cover under his anti cervical cancer campaign in Government and private schools of these two districts in phase-2 of vaccination. Punjab is the first state in India to include HPV vaccine in its routine immunization schedule.Health Minister further said that vaccination will be given in the CHCs/Sub-divisional hospitals and district hospitals under supervision of Medical Officers trained by the experts. Subsequently, Punjab plans to cover all school girls in Government and private schools studying in class 6th and also the out of school girls in age range of 11-13 years. He said that this vaccine is also available in the market but at exorbitant price and general public cannot afford this that is why the state government has launched this programme.He said that according to Medical Experts, persistent infection with oncogenic, high-risk Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) genotypes is strongly associated with the development of cervical cancer.
Type 16 and 18 of HPV are most commonly, associated, in (nearly 70-90%), with cervical cancer. The risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix is about 400 times higher following infection with HPV-16 and about 250 times higher following infection with HPV-18 compared to the risk in uninfected women. Vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can prevent a large number of cases of cancer of cervix which has high efficacy of 95-100%. WHO, UNICEF and Indian professional associations of Gynecologists (FOGSI), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Pediatrics (IAP) have strongly recommended use of HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer. The vaccine has been established to be safe with side effects similar to other routine vaccines, such as some pain, fever or headache.The meeting was attended by Mrs. Anjali Bhawra, Principal Secretary Department of Health and Family Welfare, Mr. Varun Roojam, MD NHM, Dr. Rajiv Bhalla Director Health and Family Welfare, experts from World Health Organization, Dr. G.B. Singh Assistant Director (State Immunisation Officer), Dr. Deepika (Indian Council of Medical Research), Dr. Rajesh Kumar, School of Public Health, PGIMER Chandigarh, Director Medical Research and Education, officials from Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Government Medical Colleges Amritsar and Patiala, School Education and Health Department.